Crime used to be a fairly small part of our Kelowna society, but not anymore.
Last week, Statistics Canada confirmed what many of us feel: our city is becoming less and less safe.
Kelowna has seen a double digit increase in the severity of our violent crimes, with our percentage increase standing at 14%. To put that into perspective, that’s nearly 12,000 violent crimes per 100,000 people. That’s a 7% increase over just last year.
We know that prolific offenders and other repeat offenders are a problem. In a letter from the Urban Mayors Caucus to then-Attorney General David Eby in the spring, it was noted that 15 offenders are responsible for more than 1,000 interactions with police.
No wonder we didn’t feel safe. But it’s not just a matter of policing. The Kelowna Police Department’s budget has increased by 84% over the past few years. Pumping more money into policing is not going to help unless there are other supports in place.
Our RCMP officers visit police departments to solve crimes and increase public safety. They need to be equipped and resourced for that to happen. Despite the arrests they make, the rest of the system is not working as it should, and these officers see these same offenders day after day. How could that not be demoralizing?
We need a different solution. Simply doubling down on a faulty system with more money will not solve the problem. In the five years that Eby served as Attorney General, the severity of violent crimes increased by 45%. And under the NDP government, British Columbia has seen a 75% increase in the rate of assessments without charge and a 26% decrease in the number of accused allowed to go to court.
Meanwhile, in Kelowna, we are less safe.
The system is broken and we need to fix it. I’ve written about the need for complex care before, and I sincerely believe it’s part of the solution. It was promised, and even announced in Kelowna, but has not yet been funded or implemented. Again, this is solely within the jurisdiction of the government. And our crime rate is increasing.
When the system is broken, people start to take matters into their own hands. Here are some recent examples. A store clerk runs out after being robbed and apprehends the suspect. A Facebook group is starting to monitor theft and crime in Kelowna, called Take Back Kelowna. A retail worker recently quit, citing unsafe conditions due to all the robberies and attacks at his mall store.
Talked about in carpools and at dinner parties with neighbors, crime is a major concern in Kelowna. The RCMP is doing its part, but the government could do much more.
My question for you is twofold this week:
Do you feel safe in Kelowna and what do you think should be done to increase your safety?
I love hearing from you! Please email me at [email protected] or call me at 250-712-3620.
This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.